Fuel cell systems for small EV's

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reikiman
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Fuel cell systems for small EV's

Listened to this last night ...

EVcast #104: Interview with Dr. Peter Podesser, CEO of Smart Fuel Cell

The idea is.. Smart Fuel Cells (sfc.com) has a range of fuel cell technology and is aiming to enter the market for light EV usage. Their fuel cells do not deliver the full power required to run an EV and instead their fuel cells deliver a consistent low wattage. This means you can ride your EV to work, and just park it, and the fuel cell takes care of charging the battery, but don't expect the fuel cell to provide the full power you need for riding in traffic. Their fuel cell is low enough power that it doesn't make sense for use on a large vehicle like a car, because it would require 5 days to charge up the battery pack. But for a smaller vehicle it works okay.

That's my summary of the podcast above.

Product links..

http://www.sfc.com/en/sfc-fuel-cells-markets.html
http://www.sfc.com/en/sfc-fuel-cells-products.html

reikiman
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Re: Fuel cell systems for small EV's

I have a couple thoughts.

This turns an EV rider from being able to get their electricity anywhere into being dependent on a fuel source. Car drivers are accustomed to fuel dependency, but EV riders theoretically have the freedom to plug in anywhere. Of course sometimes it can be tricky to find a plug.

The fuel for this particular fuel cell is methanol. They use a proprietary container meaning you have to buy your methanol from this company. There isn't a retail methanol infrastructure just like there isn't a retail hydrogen infrastructure. But you could imagine a retail methanol tank filling service just like the retail propane tank refilling service that is at many gasoline stations today. The podcast alludes to having a network of refilling stations.

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
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chas_stevenson
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Re: Fuel cell systems for small EV's

I want to make it perfectly clear that this is my personal opinion. I think this guy is a snake oil salesman and the product is worthless. From what I understand you could not even get a full charge, over night, from this thing on the average scooter or high powered E-bike. If I ride my bike to the store and back where I live, I would use about 8.33 AH. The largest unit puts out 2.1amps @ 24-volts or about 50.4AH per day. I could get a full charge from this unit with no problem but what would be the cost? I would use about 16% of the fuel, methanol, or 1/8 of a gallon. I looked up the cost of methanol per gallon and it ranges from $2.75 to $3.oo USD per gallon. At $3.oo it would cost 37.5 cents to charge my bike. Right now it only cost me 12 cents using my charger and a wall socket. I agree with Reikiman and would add the output of this devise is too low to be of any real world use. Some of you riding scooters use 30 to 50 AH battery packs and would be hard pressed to get a full charge which would cost between $2.75 and $3.oo. I am sure it cost that much to ride per day using a wall socket. And why would I want to change one addiction for another. I think we need to look at using the huge amount of power the sun gives us every day. At least that is a power source that will be here for a good long while.

Grandpa Chas S.

anthropisces
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Re: Fuel cell systems for small EV's

For a small EV such as an ebike or scooter, the technology just doesn't fit well. In my case, the whole purpose of developing on an ebike platform is to keep costs down. My battery pack, and everything else, is a small fraction of the cost of a "real electric car". Including a fuel cell on an ebike would be expensive. It is inside a car that the fuel cell would provide the best benefits.

The fuel cell is a power producing device. The particular technology which generated this discussion does seem to pose cumbersome limitations. There are many other technologies though, and fuel cells in general are an excellent means with which to hybridize a battery pack when the goal is a long range EV.

There are no insurmountable fuel limitations for fuel cells. I certainly would agree that switching to a "hydrogen economy" is a step in the wrong direction. What is needed is a switch to diverse solutions, some of which include fuel cells running on any number of energy carriers, including gasoline, including pure hydrogen.

The fuel cell is similar in technology to a battery. It is the natural choice for hybridization with batteries. But some of the commentary is correct; who wants to be tied to fuels which are difficult to obtain, or present other disadvantages?

Fuel cells provide us with useful power and like almost all power producing devices, rely on solar energy. Some of the solar energy we use was incident on our planet millions of years ago; ancient photosynthesis provides us with our oil, coal, and natural gas. Some energy carriers, like biofuels, provide us with more recent photosynthesis derived benefits.

I think there is some sensitivity to fuel cells because, as is often the case, things just went too far. There was talk about switching to a "hydrogen economy", which would certainly be a disaster of epic proportions. Lumping fuel cells into that judgement wouln't be a good idea though. Although the specific brand introduced in this thread has dubious benefits, properly executed fuel cell systems are clean, efficient powerplants, which are the natural choice for hybridization with the similar technology of batteris.

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